Top 20 Independent Matches of 2022 – 10-6

With 2022 officially in our rearview mirror, it’s time to continue my countdown of the best and my favorite matches of the past year.  So far, all five of the promotions I had the privilege to shoot for in 2022 – Central Empire Wrestling, Impact Pro Wrestling, SCWPro, Madhouse Wrestling, and Absolute Pro Wrestling – have been well represented. 

You can read part one featuring matches 20-16 is here and Part two featuring matches 15-11 is here. Today I’m looking back at matches 10-6 but first, a few honorable mentions. 

During the very first Madhouse Wrestling show a six-man scramble match was held featuring Clay Cooper, Jimmy Wylde, Saint, Ricky Bronson, Dustan Moseley, and Augustus Draven. 

These six men held nothing back in this out of control free for all in which Clay Cooper earned the victory after a highlight reel performance. At Central Empire Wrestling Bridge City Slam IV, Mr. Bridge City Slam – JT Energy – made good on his moniker.

That night, he successfully defended the CEW Title against former WWE Tag Team Champion Trevor Murdoch. Now let’s get into the top ten. 

Top 20 Independent Matches of 2022 – 10-6
#10 – Madhouse Wrestling: Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound
Madhouse Wrestling Tag Team Championship Bar Room Brawl
“Chillileo” Gable Galileo & Max Chill vs. “The Whiskey Dicks” Justin Decent & Malice

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Photo @TagTeamPhotographyDYE

The rivalry between Chillileo and the Whiskey Dicks began during Madhouse Wrestling’s debut show. That night, Gable Galileo, with his BFF Max Chill by his side, faced off with Justin Decent in a Knucksville Street Fight. 

Both men were given a pair of brass knuckles, and a plethora of weapons were at their disposal. The numbers advantage proved to be too much for Decent as Galileo earned the somewhat tainted victory. 

Adding insult to injury, Chillelo continued the assault on Decent after the match, which brought out Madhouse promoter Malice for the save. A tag match was made for Madhouse Wrestling: Outlaw State of Mind, where the winners would be crowned the very first Madhouse Wrestling Tag Team Champions. 

That match never came to be as Malice was unable to compete at Outlaw State of Mind. In his place was Ugly, but once again, Chillileo emerged victorious, becoming the inaugural Madhouse Tag Team Champions. 

Knowing full well this feud was far from over, a match was scheduled for Madhouse Wrestling: Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound. This was no ordinary match. This was to be a bar room brawl, in the main event of Madhouse’s final show of the year.

The Whiskey Dicks entered first, accompanied by a bottle of Evan Williams, which both were more than happy to take a large pull from. Chillileo came out next, always full of the confidence and bravado that brought them to the top of the Madhouse tag team division. 

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A pair of low blows by the challengers began the match, and then the chaos began. The Evan Williams came into play early when Malice forcibly poured it down Chills gullet, much to the chagrin of Four Loko-loving Chill. 

It didn’t take long for this fight to spill out to the crowd and into the bar area. An empty beer can tower was destroyed by Malice slamming Galileo into it. As the match went on, both challengers were busted up by chair shots, a cheese grater was used on Galileo’s forehead, and Chill was speared through a table wrapped in barbed wire. 

New champions were crowned when Justin Decent his a Death Valley Driver onto Galileo on a pile of tacks. Even though they lost their titles, Chillileo has vowed that this feud is far from over. After this, one can only imagine how wild the next chapter of this rivalry will be. 

Top 20 Independent Matches of 2022 – 10-6
#9 – Impact Pro Wrestling: Hall of Fame Show
Singles Match
Bryce Jordyn vs. Mike Bennett

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Back in 2021, Mike Bennett brought his documentary about working independent wrestling promotions across the country to Collins, Iowa. It was a frigidly cold February night, and Bennett hosted a seminar for the stars of Impact Pro Wrestling before tearing the house down with AJ Smooth. 

During his seminar, he gave feedback to the guys and gals of IPW about their promo skills and in-ring ability; included in that group was Bryce Jordyn. That night Bennett critiqued Jordyn’s mic skills and told him to embrace his inner bad guy because he had a punchable face. 

It was one of a handful of compliments Bennett dished out to the attentive group of wrestlers learning from him that night. Having taken Bennett’s advice to heart, over time, the Golden Boy transformed into the “Golden God”.

This new, self-centered attitude officially emerged after winning the IPW Championship. Fast forward to the 2022 IPW Lou Thesz-George Tragos Hall of Fame show. Jordyn, originally scheduled to compete against former Ring of Honor Champion Jonathan Gresham, found himself in need of an opponent after travel issues forced Gresham out of the match. 

Being the class act he is, Bennett jumped at the chance to work with another young upstart on the independent scene. Sometimes a deep interconnected story isn’t needed for a match to be great. Often times two wrestlers with no common angle between them just click, and everything flows marvelously. 

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Jordyn’s gear that night paid homage to wrestling icon Shawn Michaels, and he lived up to HBK’s other moniker as a show-stopper. His athleticism and speed caught Bennett off guard early, and he was sent ringside. 

Quick to follow, Jordyn’s leap over the top rope grabbed everyone’s full intention. Including Mike Bennett, from here, the IMPACT Wrestling and AEW star picked up his intensity. Showing off his Boston Strong Style, Bennett laid into his young opponent with vicious strikes before locking in a devastating arm lock. 

The intensity heightened throughout the match, and both men were more than determined to have their hand raised in victory. Jordyn hit an HBK-like super kick only to receive a picture-perfect pile driver from Bennett. 

The finish came after Jordyn narrowly escaped another brutal arm lock and hit the “Destino” for the three count. After the match, Bennett got on the mic, thanked the fans, thanked IPW, and said wrestling’s future is in good hands with young guys like Bryce Jordyn. The ultimate act of respect from one of pro wrestling’s most genuine performers. 

Top 20 Independent Matches of 2022 – 10-6
#8 – SCWPro: Genesis
QC Cup Last Man Standing Match
Dustan Moseley vs. Krotch

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Brutality, at its finest best, describes this entry. Krotch, the beloved veteran of SCWPro, and Dustan Moseley, the brash young star on the rise, clashed in one of SCWPro’s most physically brutal matches. 

For months, Krotch and Moseley did battle over the QC Cup. Moseley saw his first singles championship as the initial stepping stone to even bigger things. Krotch, the former SCWPro Champion, used it as a return to glory. 

Moseley’s controversial win at the Prestige Rumble the month prior was what led to this brutal stipulation. The winner would be the man who could incapacitate his opponent for the count of ten. 

Krotch entered first, receiving a raucous ovation from the Wildwood crowd, ready to see their favorite come out on top. Then the Devil Dog made his entrance, and as always, he was greeted with a chorus of boos. 

Moseley threw the disdain right back to the fans getting the faces of a handful of fans, including my son Emmett. After an intense staredown with the QC Cup held up between them by the referee, the fight was on. 

Moseley always brings the intensity, and for this match, the usually laid-back Krotch was ready to match that level of intensity. Both men hit each other with some early haymakers, but neither was able to keep the other man down. 

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It didn’t take long for Moseley to introduce a steel chair into the match. The QC Cup Champion delivered multiple vicious chair shots to his challenger. At one point, he sat in the chair and taunted Krotch as he tried to recover. 

Eventually, Krotch would turn the tables on Moseley using the chair to administer punishment of his own. The drop-toe hold onto Moseley was particularly painful. With each attempt to keep their rival down, the brutality intensified, and eventually, Moseley was busted open above his right eye. 

Krotch didn’t escape this match without any battle scars, as two attempts to be slammed through a door left his back battered and bruised. After all the violence and brutality, it would be Moseley’s intellect that earned him the victory. 

With Krotch laid out in the ring, Moseley used zip ties to tie his feet and hands to the bottom rope. Unable to free himself, Krotch was unable to answer the ten count, and like that, Dustan Moseley had one of the biggest wins of his young career.  

Top 20 Independent Matches of 2022 – 10-6
#7 – Madhouse Wrestling: Little Show of Horrors
Triple Threat Madhouse Wrestling Championship Match
Clay Cooper vs. AJ Smooth vs. Matty Star

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What do you get when you take three of the absolute best wrestlers in the state of Iowa and put them in a triple-threat match? An instant classic is what you get. That’s what happened when Madhouse Wrestling took their carnival of chaos to Newton, Iowa for Little Show of Horrors. 

The main event on this Halloween-themed show featured Madhouse Wrestling Champion Clay Cooper, the man he took the championship from AJ Smooth and the winner of the Last Outlaw Match, Matty Star.

In Cooper, you have one of the best high flyers in the midwest. You can’t kill Clay Cooper, and that tenacity led him to the Madhouse title. Smooth is one of the most technically gifted wrestlers in Iowa.

His vicious streak makes him a contender for any promotions title that he is a part of. Matty Star is the definition of cerebral when he steps inside the squared circle. Always one step ahead of his opponents, most times Star is playing chess while his opponents are stuck playing checkers. 

The match was in doubt when at the start of the show after Star and Smooth attacked the champion, leaving him lying in the ring. But, as I mentioned earlier, you can’t kill Clay Cooper. 

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Even with an obviously injured leg, Cooper made his way out for the main event, determined as ever. Taking the wounded champ lightly, Star and Smooth were sent reeling when Cooper hit them with a flurry of his fast-paced, one-of-a-kind offense. 

Highlighting the attack was a front flip over the top rope onto Star on the outside and a moonsault onto both of his opponents. The numbers game eventually caught up to him, and Smooth and Star pulled off a devastatingly perfect 3D on the champ. 

However, as expected, the two egos of the challengers led to a quick end to their brief alliance. With everyone now fully out for themselves, the chaos of this match ratcheted up another level.

Cooper drove Smooth through a table rested on a pair of chairs. Smooth DDT’d Star through a door resting in the corner of the ring. Star superplexed Cooper from the top turnbuckle onto a row of chairs. It was reminiscent of vintage ECW. 

Cooper defied the odds when he picked up the victory after hitting his patented 450 splash onto Star, who was attempting to pin Smooth. The spectacular reign of Clay Cooper atop Madhouse Wrestling would continue, much to the enjoyment of the Madhouse fans. 

Top 20 Independent Matches of 2022 – 10-6
#6 – Impact Pro Wrestling: Farewell to the Forte #2
IPW Championship Match
James Jeffries vs. “The Lone Diamond” Jaxon King

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Student versus the teacher. Master versus apprentice. Call it what you want, but it’s an entertaining story when told right, and that’s what James Jeffries and Jaxon King did during IPW’s final farewell to the Forte Center. 

For nearly two decades, Impact Pro Wrestling called the Forte Center home. Countless moments, matches, and memories were created there. So it was only fitting that the main event of the final show was one for the ages. 

James Jeffries, the beloved IPW Champion, won the title from another protege in Bryce Jordyn during IPW’s first goodbye to the Forte in January. Since then, he’s defended against a handful of hungry contenders, including Jordyn again, AJ Smooth, and former champion The Big Picture. 

Twice during his title reign, a match with Jaxon King was scheduled, but unforeseen circumstances delayed it from happening both times. Nothing was going to keep Jaxon King from this match and achieving what he believed was his destiny to become IPW Champion. 

After both men declined an offer from Captain Midnight Guthrie to join his Yacht Club, the bell rang, and so began the Forte crowd’s emotional rollercoaster. The respect between both men was apparent early on as the two traded holds and counters in a good old-fashioned display of technical wrestling. 

Dueling arm drags served as an early highlight. This was a back-and-forth, evenly-matched contest throughout. Jeffries hitting his vintage monkey flip only to be countered by a beautiful flying knee from the top turnbuckle by King. 

Midway through the match, the competitiveness of both men kicked into high gear. 

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Stiff punches were thrown, King back-raked Jeffries only to have it done to him moments later. The crowd was fully behind both men as dueling chants of “Jax-on-King” and “James-Jeff-ries”  ringed throughout the Forte Center. 

King thought he had won when hitting his version of the RKO, but amazingly Jeffries kicked out at two. Jeffries was left just as shocked after King kicked out after hitting his patented sliced bread. 

The Forte crowd hit a fever pitch and erupted when Jeffries hit sliced bread for the second time earning the victory. With the IPW locker heading to the ring and the crowd standing in appreciation, Jeffries helped his protege off the mat, and the two embraced. 

A final iconic moment to send off a historic wrestling venue in Des Moines, Iowa off in style.

There is the first half of the top ten matches I was able to shoot ringside this year. In my final article reviewing the best and my favorites from 2022, I’ll dive into the top five. Featuring the crowning of two champions, a lucha libre tradition, a final in-ring goodbye, and an epic return.